US Navy sonobuoy deployed UAV flight test this year

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A sonobuoy tube-deployed unmanned air vehicle is to be flight tested using a Lockheed P-3C Orion in the third quarter of this year.

Called the Coyote and developed by the US Naval Air Systems Command and Arizona based-Advanced Ceramics Research, the sonobuoy-launched UAV has a 1h endurance at its 60kt (110km/h) cruise speed, or 20min at 85kt dash speed, at an operational altitude of up to 2,000ft (610m).

Its deployment altitude is 20,000ft and its control is line of sight up to 37km (20nm).

Following ejection, the tube's parachute is deployed and 5s later the tube sleeve is released. The flight surfaces are then deployed, horizontal tail first, then the wing, then the vertical tails.

The parachute remains attached for a further 10s after sleeve release while the lithium polymer battery-powered pusher propeller speeds up and the global positioning system searches for satellites for navigation.

By 15s after launch the Coyote's parachute is released and it begins its climb-out. After about 20s from launch the Coyote is in full flight mode.

The Coyote was launched from a representative sonobuoy launcher from a Raytheon C-12 Huron in April 2007. A second test is planned for July. However, its in-service aircraft is expected to be the P-3C.